Where has she been?

The atmosphere has felt thick and heavy all week, almost like Scotland has forgotten where it sits on the map and has moved to a more tropical latitude. The weather has been sunny and warm, and lots of people seem to be happier, more positive and feeling a little more invincible; that’s why it’s surprised me that I’ve spent the week feeling just a little “uneasy”. I suppose there are periods in life when it swings like a pendulum and I’ve read that the moveable, changing state is probably the most comfortable place to be, but I can’t help but think that periods of real highs can often lead to those dippy “tummy churning lows”.

I’ve not blogged for a while, I think over the winter when I was convalescing from “stroke-gate” there didn’t seem like much to write about; and as a matter of fact, I took the time to read and learn. I suffered from anxiety so severe I would have horrific tummy pain and only being sick would settle me. My MO when I’m stressed would be to walk away, to hide in my bedroom on the “third floor” and to try and avoid people. I wouldn’t just avoid strangers, my loved ones would also be pushed aside and only the brave one or two would be able to pull me out of my dark mental place. Stress and anxiety didn’t just rob me of happiness it left a physical imprint on me so severe I couldn’t eat, speak or walk. It feels comfortable to stay with what you know, and hiding in darkness is almost as cosy as working at being something new; but I no longer had a choice. I either pulled myself out of the mire or I sank completely.

As many of you will know from my dating and comedic blogs, I took myself off on a little trip to Italy and I spent hours alone. I prayed, I walked and most of all I was silent in my own company. I took several books including one entitled “how to be a badass?” and I also took my bible. Quite the combo and shockingly both had a profound and deep impact on me. So why had I become so unwell? Was it sexual harassment at the council or Holyrood? Was it the incessant need to fit in with who I thought politics, and the media, wanted me to be? Was it the stress and strain of having two children with profound and definite needs? Was it having poorly parents? Was it that feeling of constant rejection from men who said they loved me? Was it being alone? Was it being lonely? The shocking reality was that it was all and none of these things. While these issues had caused deep and damaging stress in my life, I still hadn’t fully learned to manage the impact; but more than that I hadn’t learned to accept that none of these things were my fault. Then one day I was standing on a mountain in Tuscany, I had driven there using an old school map, in a fiat 500 in one of the scariest roads in the world and I did it on my own, I was enough. There were no loud noises, no bright lights and no one there to hear it; but I knew then and there that if I loved myself so hard, and loved others the same amount everything would be better, and eventually they would be brilliant.  I came home from that trip and I was truly a new person. Yes, I had opinions and yes I still wanted to change the world somewhat but I gave a hundred less shits about what people thought, unless those people were the ones willing to come to the “third floor” in my darkest moments and pull me back into the light.

Mental health and its manifestation can be different for everyone. I’m not suddenly some sort of genius who is happy all the time (see opening paragraph). I’m just a person who decided that life would be easier with a little more joy, a lot more love and a massive amount of tools which help when the lows get low. So what actually does work? I go to the gym and eat better, not all the time, but enough that my body is well. I yoga a lot and read books which in the past I would have thrown scorn on. I spend a lot of time in silence and in prayer, and with people who are like me, people who really love me. I’ve confronted a situation which caused not just me, but several other women, hurt and harm, and I would do it again; because allowing someone to hurt me without consequence was destroying my peace. However, I also have a deep forgiveness for that man; I will never speak to him or be in his company but I do wish him no ill or harm. I hope his life is happier. Forgiveness frees your heart. I continued to be me with my strong opinions on fairness, social justice and equality, only now I recognised that when I anger people with my opinions, that’s not me, it’s only my opinions. I will never ever change or be silenced on these subjects; ever. I write down lists of gratitude constantly, especially for my amazing girls. I “be” with family as often as possible and spend a huge amount of time with my sister who makes me laugh. I also spend a massive amount of time with my friends who are some of the fiercest and funny women you will ever meet, especially my big Karen. Karen is a woman who has taught me more about not “giving a shit” than any other human being I know, while at the same time also showing me deep and unwavering kindness. I’ve also allowed myself to fall in love, and while I still question what he sees in me, learning to love myself means I manage to be thankful for this beautiful man who loves me so ferociously. He is truly the man I will spend my forever with. Finally, I have deepened my faith to the point where I understand that if God is for me then nothing can be against me. Faith, however, makes things possible not easy.

So you’re probably reading my ramblings and wondering why if “she has all these tools” is she so down this week? The answer is that I don’t know, busy week ahead, a tough week past and maybe just feeling a little bit out of sorts because there are lots of new things happening; to be honest I just don’t know. What I do know is that instead of hiding on the third floor and avoiding the world. I got out of bed, put on some music, drove to Starbucks and decided to write this piece.

Last week I was in the car with my friends and we saw a man by the side of the road. He had taken 32 paracetamols; he wanted to die because both his parents were also dead and he “had no one to love him”. Suicide is so prevalent at the moment, and it doesn’t matter who you are it can steal the rich to the young men across our industrial towns; we have to do more. You can go into a shop and buy something shiny and new, but psychologists say you will feel low again within hours; however, if you hug someone you strengthen your immune system, treat stress and anxiety, release dopamine (the feel good hormone) and so many other amazing things. So the moral of the story is that loving harder is the greatest of all the tools.

My sister Caroline has suffered from poor mental health in recent years, and often at times I have blamed her for this because she gives so much of herself to loving others. I thought that was the cause, but it wasn’t, but allowing and supporting her to do that was the cure. To this day she still suffers and more often than not it’s when her emotional resources have been all used up; but my job is simply to love her harder to allow her to be the best version of herself. That version is a woman with a servants heart and a wise mind. A woman who has never let me completely drown. A woman who is simply made up of love. For these reasons, I dedicate this blog to sweet Caroline and all those who need to know it’s ok not to be ok. We are only here to be one thing and that is the best version of ourselves, the version which is more than good enough, love yourself first and everything else will get better. I promise.

Advertisements

Single. Mother. Survivor.

The words “single parent” often strike an instant image into your mind. What do you see? A mum with lot’s of kids living off of social security contributions? A dad who has lost his wife to illness and is just holding it all together? Do you see an image of pity? Do you feel love and compassion? Or, if you’re honest, do you feel scornful and judgemental?

I remember growing up as the youngest daughter of a 2.4, 1980’s, small C conservative family and thinking I had it all. Yes, my dad worked away all the time, and yes my mum was so ill with depression that she couldn’t even get out of her bed every day; but they were together right? So yes, I had it all. I often looked at the kids in my class who had to go to their dads every second Sunday with real pity in my heart; “look at that sad soul, bet they wished they could lie in their own bed watching Glen Michael’s Cartoon Cavalcade with their mum and dad downstairs making breakfast”. Now, I’m not sure where this idea came from because I was never allowed to stay in my bed on a Sunday, and rarely was my mother able to rise from her poor mental health to make me some sort of Walton’s style breakfast; but there you have it, even at primary age I was judging the children and parents from lone parent families.

Fast forward to my mid-twenties and picture a young mum with a five year old, a two year old, a Louis Vuitton handbag and no money; sitting in a housing office in Wishaw desperately seeking somewhere to live. Just a home of my own to raise my children. There were no houses, well none where I thought I should be living, but thankfully I was given housing benefit and sold enough of what I had to secure myself a private tenancy in a two bedroom ex-council flat. You should have seen this flat, it was all mustard kitchens, mint green bathrooms and swirly carpets; a far cry from my four bed semi and Audi supporting driveway. I had, overnight,  become a single mum living in a scheme. That’s how quickly it happened, and I was still judging, judging myself, judging my life and judging my future.

I had two choices in that period I could become the label and just lay down to it “single mum, no work, no life” or I could fight. I could beg to work on TV shows for whatever they paid, I could borrow enough money from my dad to start an online company which would let me work and parent, I could accept the small amounts of benefits I was owed which would often stop us from starving till the end of the month. I could survive. I could ignore the millions of voices giving me “sound advice” (which is more often than not from someone who lives in a two income house and who’s never had to sell said “Louis Vuitton” handbag on ebay). I could make being a single mum fabulous.

Don’t get me wrong there are moments when its far from fabulous; a lot of lone parents hear this phrase from coupled up friends “seriously though, at least you get a break at the weekend”. That’s right because I don’t spend the weekends catching up with the millions of chores which society sees as “mans work”, cleaning the car, changing all the broken light bulbs and sorting the mountains of bills. I also don’t spend my weekends missing my children and the chatter that comes from “normal” family life….. Think about that. People tend to forget that when you’re a lone parent, and maybe even a parent with a spouse who is working or living away from home, you never get a break. I’ll give you an example, last night child two had a fever, she was up all night and there was no one to hand the reigns to. I had no one to say “could you run and get her some water to take these paracetamols with”, no, I had to run gazelle-like down two flights of stairs while shouting “there there beautiful girl, I’ll be back in two seconds” while simultaneously trying not to break my neck in the jet black night. I get that not all partners are useful in these situations, but often even knowing there is another grown up gazelle-like runner in your home, well it just helps. I got up this morning, I washed my face, I pulled on some very strange clothes and I got my ass to work. Why? Because not only am I the carer, but I am the sole provider and I blooming love it.

I could lament about being a single mammy for hours, I’ve not even got on to the subject of “finding love”. If you have children you will never hear a more loaded question than “Who do you live with?”. This is a grownups way of asking if you have more baggage than terminal one at Heathrow. Oh, and if you do find someone who (often by the way thinks they’re doing you a huge favour taking on your children) would like to date you, sorting your diary to suit work, life, children and romance, would make you feel like you’re the Private Secretary to Nicola Sturgeon…. “I can fit you in for two hours after dancing on the Second of March?”

Yes being a lone parent isn’t always fun and games but guess what? I’m managing not to mess up my children completely! Mad isn’t it? A woman who gets tax credits and a discount on her council tax, with two slightly eccentric but remarkably brilliant human beings, who are contributing to society before they are even old enough to move out (which they better had do because I don’t plan on running gazelle-like after them forever). It’s maybe not the way society, or my mind, thought I would raise a family but I live with a joy that I could never have obtained if I hadn’t experienced parenting on my own. I have sense of “I did that, me, look at me!”

So how did I do it? How did I survive? Yes, there is an internal feminist warrior in me, but the answer was support. I had brilliant parents, a loving sister and fantastic friends. People who saw my struggles but who took a load off; and sometimes kicked me up the bahookie and out of my self pity. There were times when my health, the kids health and the world around me would have led me to believe that giving up would be easier; that if I became invisible and believed that I , as a single parent, should achieve nothing then that would have become my reality. Goodness, aren’t I glad that wasn’t the road I travelled. When I was Councillor I was asked over and over and over, why are you into politics? Seriously? Why? The answer is simple, because I know what its like to almost sink and to feel like you are being swept up in a sea of cliches. Benefits. Poverty. Ill health. Loneliness. Fear. I didn’t, I was sent a a life raft of hope in the form of support. Now it’s my time to support others.

If you’re judging single parents because of the help they receive, be it from family or the DSS then remember my words, in ONE night it happened to me. As quickly as I was married to a financier, I was alone. If, you think you could do it better, or you would have made different choices, then that’s great you must have all your shit together; I’ve not met anyone like that as yet, but if that’s you well done. As for us single parents, we’re just like everyone else who’s trying to raise a nice rounded human being, we are only doing our best. If you see a single mammy struggling financially, emotionally or physically; instead of opening your judging mind, soften your heart and throw them a lifebelt. Could your act of kindness change one person, and in turn change the world entire? Parents come in all “shapes and sizes”. Young mums, grannies, aunties, daddies, grampas and more; with the right support every one can raise a child who can change the world.

Finally I would like to dedicate this blog to all the single mammys and daddies who have survived, and especially to my little warrior Kelly who is the epitome of fierce.  Parents who get up and play two parts in the same play. Who juggle work, life and love while often giving so much of them self that their tank is left empty. Love yourself more, judge yourself less. To all the singletons who have gone on dates with puke down their jacket shoulders and the mobile on vibrate in case of a toddler emergency, I salute you, you haven’t given up on love and love will never give up on you.

I’m signing off because my two are at their dads and I’m going to finish the housework and have a very deserved night of uninterrupted sleep!

Miracles of Love

I need a miracle.

In the last year, or maybe in my recent life, I’ve fallen into my bed many a night and asked for a miracle. Asked for Charlie and Skye to have better health, that their lives wouldn’t be filled with so many trials and tribulations. I’ve begged God, whoever he may be, to cure my mother who is deeply tortured by mental health issues. I’ve closed my eyes and asked him to let me live when I was seconds from dying. Now, I’m not sure if it was God who saved me, or if it was my ridiculously stubborn will power but here I am; just being here isn’t the miracle though I think it was the details that saved me.

When I was taken into casualty I was assigned a specialist stroke nurse who was strong willed, feisty and spoke when I couldn’t. I will never forget her whispering in my ear ‘if you take this drug you will die’; I didn’t take it and I lived. Her love, care and compassion was my lifeline in my darkest hour. There were so many micro-miracles that its hard to place them all in my foggy memories; the joiner who installed a tone of rails in my house free of charge, the food which just appeared to feed my children and the constant love which would fall on me when I would least expect it.

Earlier in the year I took a trip to Italy, I went alone and spent so much time in reflection, my wee mum is sick; she is so poorly I often wonder how she opens her eyes every day. It was in Italy during some of the quietest moments of my life that I begged for a miracle. I wanted my mum to be able to annoy me again, to tell me my fake tan was too dark, to instruct me on the art of laundry or to simply sit in my home watching me live my life. Instead of feeling miraculous the allegations of sexual harassment started to tumble out across Scotland, and while far away from everyone I loved, my own memories were swirling around my brain like a storm of dark nightmares. I started to get sick. My face started to freeze and I was miles away from home. There was a night which was so dark that I wondered how much more of life a person could take when the mountains seemed so inexplicably high. I told the young hotel owner that I would be taking to my bed for a day or so and not to worry if he didn’t see me, I explained that I had been sick and I needed a rest. At eleven that night there was a loud bang on the door and his mother instructed me to drink some holy water for my pain, it wasn’t the water that brought me back to life it was her love and kindness. The next morning when I opened the shutters I kept thinking that I had been missing the answers all along. Nothing was exactly as I had planned in my life, but being so deep in my own worry had led me to miss the amazing things that happen around me every single day. I was having my own personal pity party.

I’ve recently got to know a young mum of three, a care experienced girl who beat the system and got her degree; was married and pregnant when her world came tumbling down around her. Husband left, rent was too high, benefit cuts too deep to let her survive. My sister took this family into her heart and she told me that they would fly. Homeless, alone and with nothing. We asked for a miracle. It wasn’t a blinding light, it wasn’t a lottery win; it was Councillor Cannon making sure she got the right caseworker, it was the people of Wallacewell who wouldn’t let her sink, it was in my friends who are painting and decorating her new wee home, it was in my sister who believed in her. It was in the hope that life could be more. Those were her miracles. On Friday this girl didn’t even have food in her cupboards but on Saturday night she was thanking the world for her wonderful new life. You see, she has her eyes open to what love is.

Charlie started her hormone journey today. I sat in the Royal Hospital for Sick Kids listening to her medical history as it was read out to me, heart defects, epilepsy, diabetes, depression; and now her body is going to have to battle so hard to be what it should be anyway. Just to be who she is on the inside. As I sat I kept thinking about all the current right wing press condemning these young trans people. I thought my heart would shatter. Who would pick this? I wanted to pick her up and run, run as far as I could; but she didn’t want to run, she wanted to stand up to this and to carry on. As we walked out the hospital we passed kids, some of whom were so sick they couldn’t walk and my heart felt like it was going to explode. Wandering through the corridors with Christmas trees and cheery festive music I was sure my emotions were going to betray me, seconds from tears and my stomach in knots we walked out to see a rainbow so big and bright we both stood for ages, eventually burst out laughing. You see we cant change our problems but we can change how we react to them. We can choose to let them topple us or we can decide to make our broken moments make us stronger. Dolly Parton once famously said ‘Storms make trees take deeper roots’.

To that end I’m going to be doing something to make micro-miracles for others. James (the boss) is collecting toys for local charities but I will be collecting (and begging) for small gifts for young women just like the girl in my blog. Women who have been given so little in life but who deserve a little hope. If you could donate a small, wrapped gift for a young lady then let me know. Ill be giving them to WAVES on the Southside and to the women of Wallacewell. It’s time for me to open my eyes. If you are struggling with life, and if miracles seem like a fantasy, let someone know. People in this country are getting poorer, austerity isn’t killing the debt, its killing people; but I believe in good. I believe in hope. I believe that Jo Cox was right when she said “there is more which unites us than divides us”. If you cant donate to my precious ladies that’s ok, we all have budgets but try and give something. A hello to a grumpy neighbour, five minutes babysitting to the single mum in your street, dinner to an elderly relative; change will come of that I have no fears but until then we must look out for each other. If your give a little, even if it’s just your time, then eventually you’ll be your own miracle.

Gifts can be handed in to our Glasgow Cathcart office on Clarkston Road, or alternatively shoot me an email at rosa.zambonini@parliament.scot

My official complaint to the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn

Dear Mr Corbyn,

I am not a member of your party, nor am I a Labour voter however I’ve had a lot of respect for some of your recent policies and as we agree on certain subjects; I thought it best to approach you on an issue which almost cost me my life. An issue which has silenced me for so long but now I feel able to discuss.

Until the local authority elections in May I was a Councillor in an area called North Lanarkshire, the home of Kier Hardy and many other politicians of note. I was an SNP councillor, but more than that I was a single mum of two disabled girls, a woman fighting hard for her constituents in probably one of the most toxic political environments you could ever imagine. I also work at Holyrood, and while difficult to manoeuvre at times, nothing compared to the horrors that were induced from my time at NLC.

Mr Corbyn, I was subjected to a prolonged and dangerous campaign of abuse and whispers. As I tried to dig for information on events in our area, the chief executive had to approach me because “senior Labour Councillors” had led him to believe I as having an affair with married officers. Labour Councillors approached me with deep anxiety because their colleagues in your party had decided to infer that they had or would show “nudes” of me, this is revenge porn if true, but it was just smear in its worst form. They said and I quote “that it would shut me up”.  These were only some of the incidents that Labour Party members were willing to discuss with me, I admire their unwavering courage because it seems that Scottish Labour is quite a different beast, and to come forward to protect me is admirable.

I often hear you talk of the many. I was the “many”, I was the lone parent living on the bread line who believed she could be part of our democratic process, a voice if you would like, for others. I didn’t expect to face a catalogue of gender based discrimination, lecherous comments and a premeditated campaign to discredit me. That’s exactly what happened. Your party having a fundraiser to campaign for “The Many” which manifested as a great night to make fun of my distress surrounding the coming out of my fragile transgender daughter, is nothing short of vile. She is precious and she did not deserve this.

I consulted the leadership in Scotland and while empathetic, the answer was “I don’t know what to do”. Can you imagine seeing that leadership in the media now condemning those who stood by and did nothing during the Weinstein allegations? Hypocrisy in full swing. As the summer of 2017 approached I was suffering from the worst period of mental health and the abuse did not stop. It was relentless. Comments in corridors. Whispering. Media stories which could only have come from inside the organisation. Sexual innuendo. I was forced out of politics, like a child hounded out of a school by playground bullies.

On June the 19th I collapsed in front of my eleven year old daughter, unable to speak or move she watched as her mum had a stroke like incident. Paralysed down one side of my body for weeks, unable to feed, wash or dress myself; the stress of my time at NLC at reduced me to a woman who could not provide for her children, take care of them properly or even take care of herself. I have a wonderful boss, who has been supportive and caring; but the fact of the matter is that your own elected members could have cost me my life and my children their mother. This has been confirmed by some of the most senior stroke consultants in Scotland, it’s not my opinion, it’s a medical fact.

I am lodging this email as an official complaint. There are probably other “procedures” but these have only served to fail me in the past. As the leadership of Scottish Labour hangs in the balance, it seems like you are the only credible destination for complaint. I am owed an apology at the least and I will not rest until what happened to me is investigated fully, and with transparency. To that end, I have copied in my lawyer as any previous concerns, as stated above, were left ignored; and I feel it prudent that I have a witness to this official complaint against the leadership of North Lanarkshire Council and any elected member who contributed to this sordid situation.

As a man who talks honestly and openly about families like mine, I very much look forward to your reply and to discuss actions which you deem appropriate.

Kindest Regards

Rosa Zambonini

Tiny Dancer

Today I was in Glasgow and I was caught up in all the early seasonal sparkle. The whole city looked like it was gearing up for a big party; and everyone was invited, well almost everyone.

I met a couple on the street, they had a dog, a tent and lots of sleeping bags. Their stories, like most living on the streets, were torrid, sad and seemingly hopeless. Yet they were funny, upbeat and ridiculously kind as they offered me “the newly donated, clean sleeping bag” to sit on. For some reason I was completely taken in by this couple and their banter was true Glaswegian wonderfulness, but while I was sat on the ground it made me notice every grumble of the passers by. “The poor dog” or the “dog didn’t ask for that life, such a shame”. The dog, the dog, the dog. The dog, as far as I could see, was well fed and blissfully unaware that it was living on argyle street or that it was any different from any other canine. I however, was sad. Sad that so many had so much time for a dog, and yet so little time for people. I was so sad, that I asked this couple how it made them feel, the man laughed and said “I don’t need them to feel for me, or to worry about me, I have real love and I wonder if any of them do”.

Taken a back I asked them how long they’d been together? Not long but they were married, she said he was her safe haven and he said “aye but she is my tiny dancer” (like the song). They told me they’d been clean since they got married, and I could well believe it, and that their goal is to live a life protecting each other. It’s hard to say what they were protecting each other from, but you could see it. There was no house, no stuff, not a lot of food but there was an abundance of love the likes of that which I hadn’t seen in such a long time.

Homelessness in this wealthy nation in 2017 angers me, almost as much as anything else, the notion that in winter people will pitch a tent to survive makes my blood boil with rage. To be sneered at by passers by because they see fit to have a dog which they so clearly love, and to be scorned for having no shelter was almost enough to tip my anger into a shouting match with strangers. But what would that achieve? Very little. As we work in or out of politics, it’s our job to just love on those less fortunate with the vigour in which this couple loved each other. I don’t mean romantic love, I mean a love for humanity which ensures it’s survival.

I bought gifts, shoes, coffees, lunch. I jumped into my BMW. I drove to my lovely little terraced house. I hate a load of food in a warm home. I will sleep alone in my big comfortable bed. I so wish they had even a little of what I have; but I did all of this alone. So really it would be a wonderful exchange if they got even a fraction of my life, and I had a fraction of their love. I’m so thankful for all the lovely things I have, but I’m so ready to acknowledge that others have so much more even when it first appears that they have so little 💛

The Last Date

Well if id known how this month was gonna pan out for women across the world I don’t know if I would have even started this dating blog, but I did and it was a ray of sunshine in a dark month.

Many have told me I shouldn’t be talking about meeting strangers for dates, when I’ve so freely called out harassment. So I tell you what, I’m going to stay at home forever incase I upset anyone on social media and cant call out sexual harassment without fear…. wrong. I will continue to seek romance, love, affection and passion; on the grounds of mutual respect. Who a woman chooses to love or not love doesn’t mean she’s up for grabs.

I’ve spent the month wondering if I should change the way I look, maybe move to the more conservative way of dressing, but I don’t want to! I like how I dress and I am fucking fabulous just the way I am. I don’t dress for men on tinder or men in general, I dress for me and for the spirit of Carrie Bradshaw. But if a man thinks I’m beautiful, and loves and respects the way I look then that’s just a bonus.

So did I find love? I don’t know about that but I’ve been surprised in some of the most lovely ways. I received some funny, interesting and downright bonkers messages. I had some amazing dates and some not so amazing encounters. I guess what I’ve taken from this is that there is someone out there for everyone and thanks to the internet we are a little closer to finding them.

What even is love? I read a beautiful blog during this which said “it’s not two halves of a hole; it’s reaching your hand out in the night and finding someone there”. So actually I really DO have love. Sometimes I reach out and it’s the podgy wee hand of skye (charlie is a lonely sleeper). Sometimes I reach out and it’s the rigid type body of my best pal Karen, she stays sometime when I’m sick, she is single and bloody amazing. Sometimes it’s kirsty in Dubai and The hand that is reaching out to me cupping my Lady garden. Sometimes I reach out and it’s the arms of my best boy pal conor letting me cuddle him in; just because I’m not his “type” (ie no a man) he is still solid. Sometimes I reach out and it’s the soft squishy touch of my mammy, making me feel loved and secure. So I have love and I love.

I’m gonna keep dating, maybe someone will manage to get me to commit to them. I got to know one of my dates quite well and he says “fuck it” a lot when I say something stressy. It makes me feel empowered, like yes fuck it who cares, I can do this. Maybe that’s all I need, someone who reaches back out to meet my hand, and someone who soothes my worries mind by telling me “fuck it”.

My final ever dating tips would be these.

4) if your on tinder don’t go to oneup, folk will think it’s ok to say “seen ye on a tinder hen”

3) recognise the love you already have in your life the beautiful friendships and family that surround you.

2) don’t date Tory’s, you’re better than that.

1) most importantly, know your worth. If you have to chase him and he rarely tells you how wonderful you are, he’s not for you. You are fantastic just as you are “so never ever settle for anything less than butterflies”

The unapologetic woman!

So today there was a story about sexual harassment in the Sunday Herald, I’ve had more texts and questions than I can shake a stick at. Is it you? Who’s rocking the boat? what’s the story? A bit of me wants to reply to every single text with “none of your bloody business”. The fact of the matter is this story has touched so many women in my industry and the story belonged to all of them. Not just mine.

Since Kezia, Nicola and other known political women have come to voice their disgust about sexism in their own arena I’ve been fascinated to read the “if it’s true name them comments” or worse the “you’re responsible if this happens to others” remarks. STOP. The only people responsible for sexual abuse, harassment and violence are the perpetrators. They are the sole reason for sexual aggression. Not short skirts, not flirty women, not flirty men, not blond hair, not big boobs. Those responsible, are those who can see a bloody line but still decide to dive head first over it.

When I was in North Lanarkshire Council the chief exec asked to “have a quiet word”; the head of education had been sacked and he had been tipped off by a senior labour councillor that it was because I was having an affair with this officer. It couldn’t possibly have been that this man had approached me with damning information of the labour administration; you see I was young, single but smart and I had their measure and they were scared. I had been tipped off about this rumour by another labour councillor and told that this was the tactic they were going to use so I was prepared, in a way it almost didn’t matter to me as I was single, but this man had a wife and family. So why were they able to peddle this bullshit? Because I was blessed with having a vagina and it was a nice easy lie to hide their own disgusting misdemeanours. It wasn’t the fault of any woman who had fallen into their slimey games before my time; this was their fault and theirs alone.

When I had a stroke type thing in the summer and recovered, as much as I am thankful for my recovery, no one told me I have to become a medical researcher and cure the suffering of future victims. An odd comparison? perhaps. However that’s just how absurd it is to ask a victim to be the advocate for those who are still to be “abused”. Here’s a thought, and it’s crude, but why don’t abusers keep their hands, words, dirty thoughts and penis to themselves? Just do that and then we can all go to our work without shuddering when we open or DMs!

I’ve had this a lot “do you know men are abused too…? Do you Rosa… do you??” Yes I do but to be honest I don’t have the energy to battle for the poor white males who’ve had it so tough for so long. I mean, I feel for anyone who’s been abused, Equality is for everyone but at the moment this is a predominantly female facing issue and I will not apologise for fighting for my gender. It is mine.

Last night in Glasgow it was Halloween weekend and I watched all the beautiful young women dressed as fairies, Angels, devils etc. I heard a lot of “she’d get it comments”. Ringing around my ears. There was definitely a “she’s gagging for it” mentality. Mate, she isn’t, honestly she just isn’t. Women are proud of their beauty and sexuality these days and they can express it as an Anne’s Summers sailor if they so choose and further more they should be allowed to do it without your lecherous mind defiling her. When “taps aff” season hits Glasgow NO one thinks you are well up for it, in fact, we really do not care that you’re slinging yer tshirt round your shoulders when it hits sixty.

This is a message for my fellow girls if you are scared, if you are sad, if you are worried about backlash after abuse and if you don’t want to name names – then don’t. You call it out wherever you see fit but your story is YOURS. You have been through enough and it’s the job of those who are stronger to fight when you cannot. You don’t have to feel guilty because someone else might be hurt, that is not your job. Your job is to find a safe and peaceful recovery. Your story, your body and your vagina is YOURS to do with what YOU choose and you do NOT have to apologise for that.

There is so much to fight for in this world but I will do it on MY terms. Have I been harassed in the Scottish Parliament? Yes. Have I been harassed at NLC? Absolutely but I will not put myself under any pressure to share that with anyone other than those who I see fit. It’s not my job to make lecherous men behave. I will not be scared of a backlash. I will not be dictated to. I have fear but I am strong. I sometimes feel alone but I’m not lonely. It’s my body. It’s my vagina. It’s my story; and I will not apologise to anyone.

Note* this was in the Sunday herald and not the mail as the tweet says